Textile Pollution in the United States: An Analysis of the Environmental Impacts of Textile Waste and Potential Solutions

March 2022

In recent years, there has been a considerable increase in clothing manufacturing, purchasing, and disposal. Textile overconsumption contributes to pollution of natural resources and increased emissions of greenhouse gases, leading to climate change. The problem of textile-related environmental pollution can be categorized as a market failure including externalities and information asymmetry. Recent technological advancements have led to the rise of cheaply made clothing—that does not easily degrade and pollutes the environment—as well as a culture of excess, which further contributes to damaging effects. Public acknowledgement of the dangers of global warming has increased, but little has been done on the company level to reduce these impacts. Therefore, responsibility is mainly placed on relatively uninformed consumers. Proposed solutions to this issue, including government research subsidies, federal certification standards, and extended producer responsibility programs, seek to minimize textile waste and chemical pollution while maintaining political feasibility and relatively low government cost.